RUNDU – The late Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Frederick Matongo, who passed away on Friday, was “a dedicated cadre, veteran and leader of the national liberation movement during the struggle for freedom and independence of Namibia,” President Hifikepunye Pohamba said. Matongo died in the Rhino Park Hospital in Windhoek on Friday morning at the age of 67.
Matongo was the Swapo Party Elders’ Council (SPEC) Secretary, a position he was elected to at the council’s fifth congress last year in Ongwediva, and also served as the Special Advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Dr Nickey Iyambo. Matongo was a card carrying member of the ruling party since 1964.
Speaking to New Era yesterday, retired Colonel Patrick Mwinga, a personal friend of the late Matongo, also described Matongo as a dedicated, well disciplined and fearless person. “I knew the late Matongo on a personal level since we grew up together and schooled together at Kabbe Primary School before he left for Zimbabwe where he went to stay with a relative,” said Mwinga.
Matongo was appointed the Secretary General of the Swapo Party Veterans’ Trust in 1990 and was elected as the Secretary for the Swapo War Veterans’ Committee in 1995.
Mwinga was the Deputy Commandant of the Military School in Okahandja from 1990 to 1995 and then the Commander of the Suiderhof Military Base from 1996 to 1999. From 2000 he was appointed as the Head of Administration for the Ministry of Defence until he retired in 2010. Mwinga said Matongo joined the struggle and the ruling party in 1964 in Zambia. In February 1965, he went to Kongwa Camp, Tanzania where he started his military career.
“In 1966 he went for military training in North Korea. Upon his return, his group was sent on a mission to Namibia to launch the battle in the Kavango Region. During that period they fled to Botswana following an encounter with the South African forces. In the process they were arrested and later sent to Zambia,” said Mwinga.
Matongo also played a crucial role in transporting combat materiel during his tenure as the party’s Chief of Logistics during the struggle. Mwinga said “Matongo did not join the defence ministry because he probably thought he was getting too old, hence he decided to dedicated his time to the party.”
Since the appointment of Matongo as the secretary of the elder’s council last year, the council had on several occassions called on government to start taking radical action to make sure that land is given back to the landless. Matongo was also never shy to publicly state that land should not be in the hands of foreigners at the expense of locals.
By Mathias Haufiku